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Boring: Finding an Extrodinary God in an Ordinary Life (A review of a book that is anything but boring).

boring  You want to read a down to earth and encouraging book? Read this one! In a market saturated with hype, this book is a breath of fresh air. Author Michael Kelley takes a reader on an adventure to discover deep joy and profound love for God in the everyday moments of life. He provides the biblical foundation to view routine and responsibility as avenues for worship.

Michael is like an expert tracker leading the reader on a journey through familiar terrain. What you once thought was just boring, frustrating or tedious parts of everyday life are reexamined with a trained eye and evidence of the activity and presence of God are made known all along the way. I couldn’t help but be humbled and encouraged as I read this book and I think you will be too.
Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life is a great read for young married folks with kids. You’ll find tons of great application and you’ll really appreciate Michael’s sense of humor.

At the time of this post. Amazon.com has it on sale for $13.17 in paperback and $4.99 for the kindle.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in books

 

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Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry (Review)

overwhelmed I was really blessed by this book. I hope a million people read it and pick up on the message! To be clear, I’m not a big Perry Noble fan, most days his speaking style annoys the snot out of me. However, I was blown away by this book (which I can only assume was based on a sermon series). Perry is an incredibly gifted writer (or he has an incredibly gifted ghost writer… who knows these days?).

I think what makes this book so good is that Perry takes you to the scripture in every chapter. This is really like an old school exposition on the book of Daniel. I think Perry also connects with readers as he walks through his own personal struggles. The book greatly benefits from Noble’s cheesy redneck humor (I was laughing with the giddiness of a school girl somewhere around page 159… so much so that my wife had to come check on me… Not bad for a book on worry).

Overwhelmed: Winning the War against Worryis a great book to have on your shelf and an even better book to read, especially if you deal with worry, depression and/ or anxiety. Perry doesn’t pull any punches and while he has you bent over laughing one moment, he’ll have you pouring your heart out to God in repentance the next. I gladly recommend it to anyone dealing with anxiety or looking for a practical level exposition on the book of Daniel. I hope it blesses you as much as it blessed me.

At the time of this post. Amazon.com has it on sale for $10.11in paperback and $9.60 for the kindle. you can also download the audio version for around $14.95 as well (which is great for listening to while your working out).

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted by on May 13, 2014 in books

 

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How High Will You Climb By John Maxwell (A Review)

_225_350_Book.1162.cover Attitude. That’s what How High Will You Climb?: Determine Your Success by Cultivating the Right Attitude is about…attitude. Mostly the focus in on how to have a positive attitude. That’s the real game changer according to Maxwell. The ability to face challenges, short-term defeat and the obstacles in our path with a gutsy determination that everything will be fine. John Maxwell offers two compelling lines of argument through the book. One seems to follow a biblical pattern (at least the scripture verses are fairly quoted). And the other is squarely placed in the self-help camp (He’s done some outside reading).

As with most books I review I put it through the “wait” test. For those unfamiliar, the wait test is simply this. Read the book well, then simply… wait. If what you remember was actually helpful, practical, and perhaps even relevant then it passed the test. What I came away with after reading this book was that a good attitude is better than a bad attitude. I hardly needed a book to tell me that, but this one comes across more like a pep-rally and some folks need that sort of thing.

So here is the deal, if you generally have a good attitude, you don’t need this book. However on the other hand if you are a perpetual grumpy pants you probably could benefit from reading this book (You need the pep-rally). And If you know a grumpy person, you might give them this book as a kind of inside joke, but also as an encouragement to adopt a different perspective on life. John Maxwell is a talented writer. He flirts with a few elements of the sovereignty of God in this book that I wish he would have taken all the way to their conclusions.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher as part of their Reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Brief Theology of Disaster: Our Motives in Providing Disaster Relief

To be honest, my tendency is to be bit skeptical when I think of churches banding together to help those who are recovering from a disaster. If we are not careful success will be redefined by how many people are fed, lots are cleared, children are ministered to, etc. rather than implementing a strategy to reach a community with the gospel.  Silently the evangelistic reports will pushed to the back of the pile.  We will be giving out bread, but forgetting to mention that it is in Jesus’ name. 

If we are not careful we will forget the true mission of God to rescue and redeem man from sin, not just from the current disaster.

We will forget that incarnation is about a holy God living among a sinful people for the purpose to rescue and redeem them from sin.  While we may mimic the incarnation by having middle class people live in impoverished communities to deliver them from poverty. We are just people reaching other people through the grace and providence of God.

disaster reliefI’m not saying that we should not help the displaced, but that we should be diligent in how we do it, because I also know that not every work done in Jesus name is actually from Jesus (Matthew 7:21-27).  It behooves us to follow Jesus’ model and listen to his words.

It is not enough to simply recall bible stories we were taught and say, “Jesus always met the physical need before the spiritual.”  That’s simply not the case.  Sometimes he forgave sin first (Mark 2:5), sometimes he asked if people believed that he was able to heal first (Matthew 9:27-31), and countless times he was approached by people who already believed he had the power to heal.  The reality is that according to the biblical record, Jesus did not indiscriminately meet physical needs then preach the kingdom, indeed he was preaching the kingdom and in the process he met physical needs (in my opinion as authentication of his message). The gospels are clear that Jesus was concerned with the spiritual above the physical (Luke 12:4-5).  Why else would he knowingly call his followers into physical suffering for the sake of the proclamation of the kingdom (Matthew 10:38-39, Acts 9:16)?

Then there are the times that he did not heal or perform signs because people would not believe (Matthew 13:58).  There was also a time that he challenged his hearers to see past the signs to see that they were pointing to the power and provision of God (John 6:26-33).   There certainly was not an apology for the gospel of Jesus part in the midst of doing good works like healing people.  The signs and wonders that we often point to as Jesus meeting physical needs were accompaniment to the proclamation of the kingdom, not the other way around.

The purpose of disaster relief should be modeled off the life and message of Jesus which is to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).   This requires some discrimination in determining what kind of works we will be a part of and how we will use resources to meet needs while we are proclaiming the gospel.  It is important that we follow Jesus in performing our good works before men and do them in such a way that causes them to give glory to our father in heaven.

The gospel must not only be present, but the very motivation of our efforts in disaster relief.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Brief Theology Disaster: thinking biblically in the wake of tragedy

By nature a disaster indicates a world in which death and suffering are predominant. A world very different that the one described by God as “very good” in Genesis 1:31. A world in which disaster often occurs is a world in desperate need of a savior. When victims cannot alleviate their suffering, they must look beyond themselves to an outside source to deliver them from suffering and set the world right as it once was. This is actually the testimony of the Bible: Jesus Christ has come to save those who cannot save themselves.

disaster relief

A proper understanding of disaster will take into account the issue of sin. The Apostle Paul reminds readers in the book of Romans that, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12, ESV). The Apostle Paul indicates in Romans eight that even all of creation groans under the curse of sin. The sin of Adam was so great because precisely through one sin the whole world fell to sin. Adam opened the door for disaster to come into the world and now those presently alive find that the world is not always “very good” as indicated by God in Genesis 1:31.

At this point many people blame God for the condition of the world and make charges that if God were good or loving that He would at the very least prevent disaster from happening. However, such allegations view to lightly the scandal of sin and the holiness of God. The scandal of sin places the trigger for disaster squarely in the hands Adam and through Adam all mankind. While some disasters may be seen as punishment for sin, not all disasters are. Indeed many disasters are the mere product of living in a fallen world. Directly or indirectly, the sin of Adam in particular and the sins of mankind in general have caused the current condition of the world. To levy the argument that the love of God ought to compel him to prevent disaster is an attempt to un-ring the bell of sin.[1]

Yet, this is the very thing that God promises! This is the very story of the Bible! Where man is unable to relieve the suffering introduced into the world through sin and death; Jesus Christ stepped out of heaven and in to space and time, lived a sinless life, embraced death through obedience to God and rose again from the dead conquering death and promising to return ushering a new heaven and a new earth. In essence God has promised to rid the world of sin and suffering.

This leaves Christians in an interesting place spreading the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. This proclamation should not be silenced in the wake of disaster, but proclaimed all the more. In the wake of disaster Christians have the opportunity to act out on a small scale what Christ has done for us on a large scale.

Christians are called to regard the image of God in each individual, boldly declaring every individual to be of a special worth (Genesis 1:27). While domesticated animals may be of a specific worth to their owners, all human life is valuable to God. It was to man that God gave the right and privilege to subdue the world and rule over it (Genesis 1:28).

Christians should also call into account the calling of the church, noting that Christ has commissioned his church to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Indeed part of being a disciple is being a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). Jesus often modeled a ministry of provision and preaching. That is while he was preaching he was also healing, multiplying loaves and fishes, etc. In essence Jesus was meeting physical needs as a way of demonstrating the authenticity of his message. This should challenge believers today to share the good news of Jesus in the midst of disaster while pointing to Christ as the ultimate means of salvation.

[1] Thought this isn’t a quote, I do owe my thoughts on this an article I read … John Garvey, “Is God Responsible,” Commonweal 132, no.2 (Jan 2005), 10-11.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in theology

 

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Teenagers and the Gospel (Part 2)

Teenagers are Self Interested

Most Teenagers are a product of their culture and our culture is all about the consumer. Marketers have been targeting our kids for years and playing to their emotional needs. Ten’s of thousands of hours of screen time and all the related ads can’t be undone in a 30 minute pep talk. Because of this when it comes to Teenagers; they will understand most biblical truths through the lens of how it affects their lives.  Cognitively they should be able to think outside of themselves, however in our society it’s not an issue of ability, it’s an issue of conditioning. To reach teenagers you have to make a personal appeal or they will tune you out.

teenagers and the gospel

Even kids who have grown up in Christian families and have a strong background in church will have a hard time paying attention if you don’t address how the scripture relates to them personally. Quite frankly teenagers have been programed to be self-interested thinkers. You need to get to know them well enough to relate biblical truth to their personal needs. However, don’t make the mistake here of falling into moralism (good apart from the gospel). Teenagers need the gospel. Help them to see their need for the Savior.

Having a self-interested teen can be a mixed blessing. On one level you can’t compete with millions of dollars of marketing, well written scripts, and super model actors… on the other hand… those people don’t know “your” teen. While you may be less entertaining than the latest super bowl commercial, a little time well spent learning about the teens in your life can give you more credibility than axe body spray ever had.

Teenagers are Emotional

Teenagers make decisions based on feelings more than rational thought.  Physiologically they are still developing the rational part of their brain while the emotional impulse part of the brain is already developed.  They default to what they know. Something which seems cut and dry to you, is a major issue to them because they simply lack the development in their brains to process the situation the way you can as an adult.

They can still get there, it’s just not the preferred method and it requires you to connect a lot of the dots for them. Think of this as exorcising a weak muscle. The tendency to default to emotion is why students can sometimes be prone to “drama.” Teens often use the filter of feeling (“how does this make me feel”) to evaluate their circumstances and to make decisions. We need to guard our kids in this area because it leaves them open to manipulation.

The positive side of this is that teenagers are able to be empathetic. However, rarely do they ever get there without some help or guidance along the way. It is generally good when ask “How do you think it made them feel?”  When talking about how our actions effect others.

Grumpy Teen: If you are a parent dealing with a grumpy teen take in to account how many hours of sleep your child is getting each night. Most studies indicate that middle school age kids need around 9 hours of sleep or more per night and only about 15% of teens are getting enough sleep (There is a reason they would sleep till noon on Saturday if you’d let them). If 13 year-old Tommy is acting like the 3 year-old Tommy when he didn’t get his nap, it’s probably because 13-year-old Tommy is tired.

Challenge: How well do you know the teens in your life? If you don’t already, schedule regular personal time with your teen doing something you both value.  What emotions tend to rise to the top when you are carrying on a conversation? Pray for the teenagers in your life. Ask God to give you wisdom in applying the scripture to their needs. How is their sleep schedule? Sometimes a late weekend wake up is due to not enough sleep during the week.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in discipleship, parenting

 

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10% Happier (A Review)

10%Just to be clear I don’t endorse this book. It’s a book about one man’s completely ironic journey to Buddhism. What’s most ironic is how the author rips on self-help guru’s and then ends up writing what amounts to a self-help book complete with a guide on how to meditate.

I get it. Dan Harris believes this stuff and thinks that he is offering us a public service. (He’s in deep enough that he had a vision that this stuff would catch on here in the West).  He almost actually shared some actual scientific data in the book… but no, not really. Most of that just ended up being promising leads, not actual scientific data. The book is primarily based on his experience. It’s a well written story book, “This is how meditation changed my life and it can change yours too.” 

 My curiosity was piqued and I picked up the book because I saw things like “disgraced pastor” (Spoiler: It’s Ted Haggard)  and “unchurched” in the initial rundown of the book. While this wasn’t false advertising, it was certainly misleading in that I fear others will also pick up this book thinking that Harris is driving the bus somewhere other than Buddhism.The problem though is that I don’t think Dan Harris or his publishers are familiar enough with the Evangelical movement to know that he’s off market with these misdirects (or worse they’ve intentionally targeted us).

As a Christian I believe in meditation, but it’s a completely different sort than what is dealt with here. This book deals with “mindfulness” (read clearing your mind) whereas Christian meditation “focuses” the mind on a promise of God, scripture passage, or truth about God. They are polar opposites.

I think Dan is a gifted writer. He’s gutsy and bold. I found it odd that for someone on TV his inner voice cusses a bit more than mine.  I hope he writes again about something else (he is a master story-teller). If he ever reads this blog and comes through Pensacola I’d love to buy him a coffee and talk more about the differences between Christian meditation and Eastern mediation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse as part of their Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in books

 

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